By Chris Zink DVM PhD DACVSMR
Some roads lead on from what you know
To what you need to find
— Della Mae
My very first Golden Retriever, Cajun, was the dog who really got me hooked on canine sports. We competed in obedience, conformation, hunt tests, and the then-new sport of flyball. All that time spent developing a whole new relationship with Cajun through training and competing led to my interest in canine sports medicine and rehabilitation, and the rest, as they say, was history.
When Cajun was older, I had moved to the United States (from Canada) and I had added two more Golden Retrievers to my pack. I had a tiny Toyota that didn’t safely fit three Golden Retrievers and all the equipment for competitions, and I couldn’t afford a new, larger, vehicle on a post-doctoral fellow’s stipend.
Once Cajun had gone as far as he could in competition (there weren’t nearly as many dog games available then), I found it necessary to leave him at home while I competed with my other two dogs. After all, dogs just spend all day sleeping, right?
I will never, ever, forget one day as I left the house with my two younger dogs and equipment all packed in the car, and I looked through the window of the door to my house and saw Cajun sitting there, watching me leave. The expression of disappointment on his face brings tears to my eyes even now. I swore I would never do that again.
So here’s to the old guys! And to letting them share fully in our lives for all of their lives. And to finding ways that they can be the Only Dog every now and then.
Gifts you can give your senior dog:
1. Duranton C, Horowitz A. Let me sniff! Nosework induces positive judgment bias in pet dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci 2018; Dec. 3.
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